West Liberty celebrates first generation students with fair

On Monday, Nov. 8, the First Generation Student Fair took place in West Liberty University’s (WLU) Student Union. Director of Financial Aid Katie Cooper and Executive Director of Housing and Student Life Marcella Snyder were stationed at the event where they handed out goodies, including free t-shirts and cookies as well as an entry into a raffle.

The raffle offers a winning student a WLU swag basket, and a $500 scholarship. Every first-gen student, which is a student whose parents did not attend college, was permitted one entry and an additional ticket for sharing their story online with the hashtag #wlufirstgen.

Students were able to get a black logo t-shirt stating “I’m First” and “#whyimfirst” for being a first generation student. Students who did not qualify as first generation students received a blue shirt for attending the event and showing their support. The event was hosted by College for West Virginia (CFWV) and includes participation from multiple schools and college institutions such as West Virginia University, Wheeling University and Marshall University. The event struck gold with many students, as some first generation members harbor an isolated feeling when beginning their college journey.

CFWV is a no cost career and college planning initiative directed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Their goal in the Celebrate First Gen event was to show support toward the trailblazing first generation students. In conjunction with the table in the student union, other engagements included first generation faculty discussions in classrooms and seminars that helped promote student success and retention.

First generation student Chase Durbin was ecstatic when hearing this, stating the following: “The event made me feel included by giving off a welcoming atmosphere, and by having endearing first generation faculty/students present. By creating a setting where I felt important and not less than, the event was as enjoyable as it was easy to fit in. It’s also an amazing opportunity for students to get additional financial support.”

When you see someone repping their “I’m First” shirt, be mindful to ask them about their story and make a new friend.

When asked to share her story of why she decided to attend college as a first generation student, Brianna Hamon, news editor of The Trumpet, explained that attending college has always been a large goal in achieving her dreams and growing her skills. “Although my family never attended college, they have always supported my decision in seeking higher education. My hard work and everything I involve myself in is all for them because I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for their support. Carrying the title of first generation student is extremely rewarding,” said Hamon.

For more information about the first generation student event, please contact Michael Antley at [email protected].